Verse 28. "And Aaron died there" - Hence, as Dr. Lightfoot has justly observed, we have an "indisputable proof that the earthly Canaan was not the utmost felicity at which God's promises to the Israelites aimed since the best men among them were excluded from it." THE remark of some of the fathers here is worthy of attention: "Neither Moses the representative of the law, nor Miriam the representative of the prophets, nor Aaron the representative of the priesthood and its sacrificial rites, could bring the Israelites into possession of the promised land. This was reserved for Joshua, who was in name and conduct the lively type of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ." He alone can bring those who believe in his name into that rest which remains for the people of God.
There are some observations made by Dr. Lightfoot on this and some of the preceding chapters which should be more generally known.
"The place where the people murmured upon the return of the spies was Kadesh-Barnea, chap. xiii. 26; xxxii. 8; Deuteronomy i. 19. This place was called Rithmah before, (chap. xxxiii. 18, compared with chap. xii. 16, and chap. xiii. 26,) and was so called probably from the juniper trees that grew there; but is now named Kadesh, because the Lord was there sanctified upon the people, as ver. 13; and Barnea, or the wandering son, because here was the decree made of their long wandering in the wilderness. They continued a good space at Kadesh before they removed; for so said Moses, Ye abode in Kadesh many days; or as the Hebrew, According to the days that ye had made abode, namely, at Sinai, ver. 6. And so they spent one whole year there, for so they had done at Sinai. And whereas God commands them at their murmuring to turn back to the Red Sea, (Deut. i. 40,) his meaning was, that at their next march, whensoever it was, they should not go forward unto Canaan, but back again towards the Red Sea, whence they came; (but see on Deut. i. 1.) And they did so, for they wandered by many stations and marches from Kadesh- Barnea till they came to Kadesh-Barnea again, seven or eight and thirty years after they had first left it. These marches, mentioned in chap. xxxiii., were these: From Kadesh or Rithmah to Rimmon Parez, to Libnah, to Rissah, to Kehelathah, to Mount Shapher, to Haradah, to Makheloth, to Tahath, to Tarah, to Mithcah, to Hashmonah, to Moseroth, to Benejaaken, to Horhagidgad, to Jotbathah, to Ebronah, to Ezion-Gaber, to Kadesh again, in the fortieth year. And though it was only eleven days' journey from Horeb, by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-Barnea, (Deut. i. 2,) they made it above thrice eleven years' journey!" Had they trusted in God, and obeyed him, their enemies long ere this would have been discomfited, and themselves quietly established in possession of the promised inheritance. But they grieved the Spirit of God, and did not believe his promise; and it would have been inconsistent with the whole economy of grace to have introduced unbelievers into that rest which was a type of the kingdom of God.